C1017: Colette’s Peony Pattern

After summer played hide and seek all through December, it finally appeared with a vengeance over the new year weekend. I suddenly realised – here I am making a suit jacket when its 40 degrees outside. Uh, maybe I should make something a little more season appropriate?!

I had wanted this pattern the moment I saw it. I was forced to wait until Colette Patterns had them back in stock after a supply blip… getting more and more jealous each day of the lovely Peony’s showing up over at Burdastyle, Coletterie and Pattern Review. Finally, a package from Colette landed on my desk (naturally – on the first of 3 days I had to be interstate for work!).

I’ll be making this with a delicious apple green stretch cotton from Tessuti which is apparently called ‘oregano’ green. (From the picture, I think the supplier may have got that wrong. It is very definitely apple green.)

I’m wanting to try something different on the hem however – perhaps a horizontal pleating effect or pin-tucks? Then I came across the gorgeous cotton batiste lace you see above on Etsy from dishyvintage – instant attraction followed immediately by purchase reflex.

This is my second attempt at a Colette pattern, and they seem to require a ridiculous amount of fine tuning to properly fit my body shape without looking like a hock-up. This dress has a lot more ease than I would ideally prefer – a good 2 inches. So I thought I was doing the right thing by grading a size down. Unfortunately for me, this meant that the front two darts were a good 2cm inwards of where they should be pointing:

So maybe I should have just stuck with my size and downgraded the seams as per usual. There’s also a weird bulge going on at the back (it looks a lot less smaller in this photo thanks to the 2D-ness of it all – I will have to pin that out and alter the pattern to get rid of it:

From trawling through my sewing books, this is due to an ‘erect back’ which can be fixed by taking a horizontal dart out from the centre seam line where its needed. This means the centre back seam becomes slightly curved:

But you know sometimes if you stare at or think about a word to much, the spelling of it begins to looks completely ridiculous? I’m doing that, but with the now non-straight grain line. I’m going to stick with the ‘original’ grain line on the top half. Does anyone have any suggestions otherwise?

I am totally impressed that there’s no gaping at the armhole though – usually this always happens to my patterns! I chalk this up to Colette patterns being made for a slightly curvier/bustier gal, rather than the standard B.

So a few more adjustments needed before hitting that lovely apple green fabric…


  1. OOoooh, I'm very excited to see how this dress turns out, I've been eyeing it off my self. It's going to look amazing with that green! How many cm's are you removing from the centre back with the dart? If it's a small amount I would maybe make the dart point stop right to where the waist dart is (right near the bust point)so that both the dart points are touching, instead of maybe the under arm, which will keep you grain line unaffected. Maybe also draw a new straight line from the top of the centreback seam to the bottom of the centreback seam so that it's straight again. Happy sewing! Looking forward to seeing the end result!

  2. Having said that … if you are reducing the dart at the CB more than 1cm it probably is best to reduce it out to the underarm, but just draw a new line from the top of the CB to the bottom of the CB to straighten the piece again and use that as your grain line as well! Sorry for the confusion!

  3. Hmm – that's a tricky one!! I agree with Julia about the dart line. Looking at your toile it looks like the excess is from the back dart to the CB. I would get someone to pin the excess from the CB and then just remove your toile, sew the excess out and redo the zip. If it fits well just copy the alterations onto your pattern. Does that make sense? That means you will have altered the CB but the other parts of the pattern would not be affected. Hope this helps – I'm not a pattern maker but using the 'draping' method would be the easiest way to test. Having said all of that, I've never sewn a CB which has a curve but if it's not a big amount, might not matter, and if it solves the problem – why not. Maybe someone with more experience can solve your problem.

  4. No suggestions regarding the GL, but I can't wait to see yours made up. I bought the orange version of that fabric and can't wait to use it.

  5. Thanks for the tips gals – I'm going to try the easy route first (sew up the excess, re-attach the zip) and if that works just keep the pattern as is. It's about 3cm that needs to come out Julia, so plan B will be to transfer that into the dart at the waist!Oh and Julia, the amount of fabric recommended on the back of the pattern is WAY in excess of what you actually need – more like 1.9m, rather than the 2.8m suggested (3 1/8 yards). Considering your Parfait looked better on you than it did the model, I'm sure the Peony would be a winner for you!

  6. Hello! I just found your blog VIA a post by Miss Crayola Creepy. I saw your finished peony and it is beautiful! I made a peony myself recently (you can see pics of it http://dana-knockouts.livejournal.com/7271.html)I had the same issue as you where I had to take a horizontal dart out of the back and yeah, my grainline ended up really wonky too.So I undid it and used the seam method (http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/5053/the-seam-method-of-pattern-alteration) which I also wrote about on my blog.In the Threads Magazine tutorial, they're mostly talking about pants but you can see how I used it in my post here:http://dana-knockouts.livejournal.com/6911.html.

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